Mark Allan, chief executive of the Unite Group, the UK’s largest provider of student accommodation, today announced plans to double the size of its business as demand for quality student housing goes from strength to strength.

Reporting its preliminary results for the year to 31 December, the FTSE 250-listed company revealed a 17% rise in its adjusted Net Asset Value to 425p on the back of increased development activity at attractive margins. Unite generated pre-tax profits of £58.6m, up from £28.1m in 2005 and occupancy across the total portfolio for the current academic year remained steady at 91%.

Unite’s burgeoning co-investing fund management business also enjoyed a successful 2006, with the launch of the £1bn UK Student Accommodation Fund, the first fund to invest entirely in student-let property.

The company kickstarted 19 development projects with a total estimated completion value of £461m at completion compared with 12 properties with a total end value of £236m in the previous year. It opened nine projects in time for the 2006/2007 academic year and has just unveiled a new initiative to develop accommodation for graduates and young career professionals.

Allan said: ‘Our aim over the next five years is to double the size of our student hospitality business in the UK. This will be achieved primarily through organic development activity, particularly in London, and consistent year-on-year growth in net rents. We will also move beyond our existing reach to pioneer a new accommodation proposition for graduates and young professionals, focused in London.